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Thursday, March 21, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Michigan 71, SDSU 56

By Michael Rothstein

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Quick thoughts from fourth-seeded Michigan's 71-56 win over No. 13 seed South Dakota State.

Overview: In some ways, Michigan has waited all season for something like this.

The Wolverines hadn’t needed much help since point guard Trey Burke has done so much for them all season. But on a night where he was completely off -- he missed his first nine shots and didn’t hit one until the second half -- the rest of the Michigan team showed up.

His backcourt mate, Tim Hardaway Jr., scored 21 points and had four rebounds. Freshman forward Glenn Robinson III had his most efficient game of 2013, scoring 21 points on nine shots, including three from the 3-point line.

It led to a Michigan runaway, with South Dakota State playing six guys most of the night when the game was still in doubt. Guard Brayden Carlson kept the Jackrabbits in the game with 20 points and SDSU had four players in double figures. But the Jackrabbits didn’t have enough for a Michigan team that played better on offense than it had in more than a month.

Turning point: Robinson had struggled from the 3-point line for most of the past two months. But early in the second half on Thursday, he hit three 3-pointers, the last one coming with 16:35 left to give the Wolverines a 41-30 lead. For Michigan to advance as far as it would like in this NCAA tournament, it needs production like that from Robinson.

Key player: Michigan made a change in its starting lineup for the NCAA tournament, going with freshman Mitch McGary in place of Jordan Morgan. It paid off. Michigan went to McGary immediately on a pick-and-roll and his interior presence gave the Wolverines a dimension to their offense they have not had for much of the season. The Chesterton, Ind., native had 13 points and nine rebounds, but ran the floor well enough to be out in front of some fast breaks.

Key stat: Entering this matchup, much of the focus was on the point guards, Burke and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters. Neither played particularly well, combining to shoot 5-of-26 with 16 points, 13 assists and five turnovers. Burke had six points and Wolters 10. Michigan survived that performance. South Dakota State did not.

Next game: Michigan moves on to the round of 32 to face either No. 5 VCU or No. 12 Akron.